Both Michael Owen and Alan Smith are again included in the England squad for the upcoming friendly with Austria followed by the final European 2008 qualifying game against unbeaten group E leaders Croatia.
If Russia win in Israel and Croatia avoid defeat in Macedonia on 17th November, England cannot qualify even if they beat Croatia four days later.
England manager Steve McClaren - European qualification out of our hands now
Thatâ€™s the result of the terrible capitulation in Russia during the last group game when England were leading Russia 1-0 in the second half, and then within 3 minutes managed to find themselves 2-1 downâ€¦and almost out of the competition.
David Beckham is also back in the squad having finally recovered from injury, but Wayne Rooney dropped out of the squad, after picking up an ankle injury while training with Manchester United today.
England manager Steve McClaren said:
“We need big-game players like David.” “Given the form he has been in and the contribution he (Rooney) has made to England over the last two games means it is a blow.â€
“I believe that with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry also out of the squad we are lacking experience. We need those big players with experience and David is one of those.”
England play Austria in the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna next Friday, 16th November, then face Croatia at Wembley on the following Wednesday, 21st November. Steve McClaren traveled all the way to Los Angeles to meet Beckham and discuss his current form and condition with the fitness team at David’s LA Galaxy club in readiness for bringing him back.
Is Steve after frequent flyer miles? We think a telephone call would have been so much better use of his time.
“I went out to Los Angeles because it was important to check him out and do my job. He is fit and he is in the squad.â€
“David is a very important player to us. He proved his importance when he came back into the squad in the summer. His performances warranted inclusion.”
“I still believe Croatia will be a big game. We have got to be positive but we are disappointed that we are in the situation where it is out of our hands – that is a big regret.â€
“We have got to hope that Israel, a proud nation with a great home record, get a result against Russia.”
We find it hard to understand how David’s an important player for Steve, after he immediately dumped him after the world cup. Anyway, that’s just one of the many mistakes McClaren has made in the England job. But, of course he should never have been appointed by the FA in the first place, because nothing on his CV ever suggested he was anything other than an ordinary club manager. He’s continued to prove that.
Chelsea’s Ashley Cole is back after missing the defeat in Russia with an ankle injury, and his team-mate Wayne Bridge is also back in the squad after finally regaining fitness. This is a boost for McClaren, who used Everton’s Joleon Lescott as an emergency left-back in the Moscow defeat.
Rio Ferdinand is suspended for the Croatia game and has not been considered, but Micah Richards is still included despite suffering a knee injury. McClaren also claimed that Chelsea midfield man Frank Lampard’s return to form has piled on the pressure for places.
“The time out with his injury has done him a lot of good. He looks sharp, he’s playing well and he’s scoring goals.â€
“It creates a welcome problem and gives me the headache all managers want.”
We still think Steve should continue pick Gareth Barry instead of Lampard, because he simply plays better than Lampard does for England, and is a much more natural partner for Gerrard in midfield.
The problem we’ve had with the England team for quite a while now, is the players hardly ever approach their club form, and it’s got to the point we think the selection should be based on how the players perform for England. On that basis Barry deserves to keep his place, but doubt that he will, simply because we expect McClaren to again bow to player power.
If we don’t qualify by Israel bringing off a miracle against Russia, we fully expect Steve to be sacked.
But then the FA will have to select the best manager for the job, and not just pick somebody, because they are the path of least resistance. Since that usually takes some guts, we’re not keeping our hopes too high that the FA can do that. Oh, and Sam Allardyce is not available any more.
England squad: Robinson, Carson, James, P Neville, Campbell, Richards, Brown, Lescott, Shorey, Bridge, A Cole, Beckham, Wright-Phillips, Bentley, Gerrard, Lampard, Hargreaves, Barry, J Cole, Downing, Young, Smith, Crouch, Defoe, Owen.
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